4 Mount Vernon policemen probed


MOUNT VERNON, N.Y. (AP) – Four policemen have given up their guns and badges while the department investigates whether one officer’s auto accident was the result of drag racing and whether it was properly investigated.

A state policewoman was injured in the accident. The car involved in the accident has reportedly disappeared.

Mount Vernon Police Chief Joseph Pizzuti said Friday that police received a call on Sunday complaining of drag racers on North MacQuesten Parkway.

Officer Thomas Bendo, sent to investigate, found that an off-duty colleague, Officer Robert Burke, had driven a car that jumped a curb, hit a parking meter and a hydrant and scraped the side of a building. An off-duty state trooper who was a passenger suffered a hairline fracture to a vertebra that was not serious, Pizzuti said.

Two other off-duty Mount Vernon officers, Leonard Cooper and Robert Wuttke, were also on the scene, the chief said.

He said Burke was not tested for intoxication, although he was ticketed.

The Journal News reported on its Internet site that the damaged car was towed away but was not impounded by police and disappeared from the towing company’s lot.

Pizzuti said the Westchester County district attorney’s office had joined the investigation.

AP-ES-04-07-06 1613EDT